Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Precious (Based on the novel Push by Sapphire)

WORTH-IT: (Lee Daniels) Every so often, I watch a movie that literally shuts me up. It throws tragedy, sadness and unbelievable stories so hard at me that I have trouble reacting in a timely manner. It takes a long time for the ugly bits and pieces to sink all the way in (if I can bear to let them at all). Precious is one of those movies for me. 16-year-old Clarice Precious Jones has 2 children by way of her father. She can't stay in public school, can barely read or write, and is constantly abused, both physically and verbally by her mother. Gabourey Sidibe plays this tragic young woman with gusto, raw emotion and utter ingenuity. She captures the true innocence of a 16-year-old personality, abused and torn down, but eager for acceptance and lots of love to give. We watch her grow intellectually and emotionally and see her hopeful adaptation to constant bad news. Her story is dotted with fascinating characters that build a community of hopeless-on-the-outside teenagers learning from each other and growing as a result. It's a reality check and a punch in the stomach, but after you catch your breath, its an unbelievable story of perseverance and faith.

Unfortunately, the film itself wasn't something incredible for me. The American Beauty-like existentialism felt disconnected and unnecessary. In fact, looking back, I don't think the movie would change at all if those snippets were left out. The real-time in the film was too real, too raw to interject such fantasy, despite its efforts to illustrate Precious's coping methods. It didn't work for me. I also saw red flags of over-emphasized liberalism when the sexual orientation of the teacher was brought up at all. She was a flat character, despite her large presence in the film, meaning there was no real point to delving into her personal life. Especially when the topic led to the line saying "homos weren't the ones raping me, or selling crack" it seemed surface, and a strained effort to pronounce homosexual acceptance. Not relevant!

Overall, whether you see this film or not is a personal decision. You won't miss out on anything but a fabulous illustration of hope and an Oscar-winning performance by Mo'Nique. It's still sitting with me. I am still processing a lot. And, finally, its hard to say you liked a story abut rape, teen pregnancy, AIDS and illiteracy... but I will say that I am glad I watched it. It adds a little more depth to my perspective and a re-vamps my sense of faith.

No comments: